human & social rights
2014-11-05: ISO TC 92: ‘Fire Safety’ is a long-established Technical Committee within the International Standards Organization (ISO) … www.iso.org/iso/home/standards_development/list_of_iso_technical_committees/iso_technical_committee.htm?commid=50492 … and down through the many years of its existence, since 1958, it has laboriously constructed a robust foundation which has facilitated the modern evolution of Fire Science and Engineering and the development of many standard fire safety practices and procedures around the world.
BUT … and in spite the existence of ISO/IEC Guide 71: ‘Guidelines for Standards Developers to Address the Needs of Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities’ (a weak document which is badly in need of revision and updating !) …
Recently, having examined some draft standards being processed through ISO TC 92 … I have become very tired of the blatant incompetence … and lack of care and concern merging with feigned ignorance and/or stubborn resistance, within the Technical Committee, when it comes to the issue of ‘disability’ … in other words, the major matter of the real fire safety of vulnerable building users and occupants, i.e. people with activity limitations, in real buildings.
SO … a few days ago, I wrote the following e-mail message to a Working Group Chairperson (who shall remain nameless, because this same problem pervades the whole TC) …
With regard to All Aspects of the WG’s Work … one issue, in particular, sticks out like a sore thumb … how you treat ‘disability’. There is no clarity here, only confusion. There are no precise terms, only a garbled use of language and concepts.
Please allow me to suggest, with accompanying explanations, a suitable and necessary path forward.
I will circulate this e-mail message separately within ISO, and beyond.
Concerning Normative References … reference must be made to …
ISO 21542 (2011): ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’
Within this document, Accessibility is understood to mean the full cycle of independent building use, in an equitable and dignified manner … and to include the approach, entry to and use of a building, egress during normal conditions and removal from the vicinity of the building … and, most importantly, evacuation during a fire incident to a ‘place of safety’ which is remote from the building.
Texts relating to ‘fire safety’ have been incorporated into the main body of this International Standard. It is, however, just a small beginning. Much work remains to be done.
Accessibility Design Criteria, as described in ISO 21542, must now be applied to the design and maintenance of all fire evacuation routes, fire safety related signage and fittings, etc., etc.
Use of the word escape, in any context, is strongly discouraged.
Concerning Terms & Definitions …
People with Activity Limitations: Those people, of all ages, who are unable to perform, independently and without aid, basic human activities or tasks – because of a health condition or physical/mental/cognitive/psychological impairment of a permanent or temporary nature.
Attached, please find the FireOx International ‘Fire Safety for All’ Matrix … which illustrates how the separate pieces, including ‘disability’, fit together.
Contraflow: Emergency access by firefighters or rescue teams into a building and towards a fire, while people are still moving away from the fire and evacuating the building.
Concerning Building User/Occupant Numbers & Provision … ‘token’ is not only entirely unacceptable, it is a clear case of professional negligence …
And why, suddenly, all of these ‘musts’ ??
Cogently mandated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) … the UN CRPD’s principal aim is to ensure that the Built, Social, Economic and Virtual Environments are sufficiently ‘accessible’ to permit a vulnerable and major population group in all of our societies to enjoy the fundamental freedoms and human rights set down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
The language of the Convention is always very robust and very direct: ‘States Parties shall …’
Also attached, please find a United Nations Global Map showing the status of Convention Ratification back in July 2014. At the time of writing this e-mail message, 151 Countries have ratified the UN CRPD.
Full and Effective Accessibility of the Built Environment is a human right. Adequate provision must be made for people with disabilities to use all buildings … not just some buildings … and certainly not just limited parts of a building !
In practice, people with disabilities must be included in all practice evacuation drills … and they must be included in all activities related to ‘fire safety’ and/or necessary to prepare for safe evacuation.
Furthermore … because Electronic, Information and Communication Technologies (EICT’s) now serve a function which is critical, during a fire incident, for the safety of all building users and firefighters, property protection, minimizing environmental damage, and sustainability … they must have a user interface which is Accessible for All … from both ends.
With regard to ‘adequate’ provision … please find attached the 2010 USA Disability Statistics … which indicate:
- Minimum Reasonable Provision for People with Disabilities in a Building … 10% of User/Occupant Population ;
- Minimum Reasonable Provision for People with Activity Limitations in a Building … 15% of User/Occupant Population.
The numbers of people with disabilities in developing and the least developed economies far exceed numbers in developed economies !
Best wishes for the success of your meeting in Sydney.
C.J. Walsh – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller.
2014-10-17: Within the professional discipline of Fire Engineering … either a building is ‘fire safe’, or it is not. The Design Philosophy of the Fire Engineer is irrelevant. In fact, nearly everybody involved with fire safety in buildings would collapse in a fit of laughter at the delusional notion that a design philosophy was relevant. People’s lives are at stake !
Similarly, now, we must begin to think and act in the simple terms of a building either being ‘accessible’, or not. At stake, this time, is the quality of life and living for very many vulnerable people in all of our societies.
Accessibility for All, according to International Standard ISO 21542 (2011) … includes the approach, entry to and use of a building, egress during normal conditions and removal from the vicinity of the building … and, most importantly, evacuation during a fire incident to a ‘place of safety’ which is remote from the building.
Concerning that All above … FireOx International’s ‘Fire Safety for All’ Matrix shows who exactly we are talking about … and who must be considered in the development of a Fire Safety Strategy for every building … not just some buildings !
This is not just good design practice … it is also mandated in International Human Rights Law.
Building Fire Safety Codes and Standards exist in almost every country. However – IF they exist at all – those guidelines relating to the Fire Safety of People with Activity Limitations are technically inadequate, entirely tokenistic and/or blatantly discriminatory.
Refer to my previous post … BS 9999:2008 & BS 8300:2009 – Sleepwalking into Problems ?
It is time to Reboot this ridiculous, professionally negligent and obsolete old system … Reload with innovative and practical building design, construction, management and personal self-protection solutions … and Implement !
[ EICT’s = Electronic, Information & Communication Technologies ]
2014-10-13: Electronic, Information and Communication Technologies have rapidly become an essential feature of the Built, Social and Economic Environments; they are everywhere. During a fire incident, however, these e-Technologies serve a function which is critical for the safety of all building users and firefighters, property protection, minimizing environmental damage, and sustainability. They must, therefore, have a user interface which is Accessible for All … from both ends.
This is a requirement of International Law … and an unambiguous National Requirement (expressed in the form of law and/or mandatory administrative provisions) in those jurisdictions which are States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
There is no European Standard (EN) on e-Technology Accessibility … and, in the European Union (EU), a coherent approach to the accessibility of even a modest range of EICT’s has not yet even been developed.
Electronic, Information and Communication Technologies (EICT’s) must comply with Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 … or with a suitable Standard/Guidance Document of another country which details an equivalent level of e-Accessibility performance.
U.S. Section 508 covers the following range of e-Technologies:
- Software Applications & Operating Systems (1194.21) ;
- Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22) ;
- Telecommunications Products (1194.23) ;
- Video and Multimedia Products (1194.24) ;
- Self Contained, Closed Products (1194.25) ;
- Desktop and Portable Computers (1194.26)
Source WebSite, Helpful Guidance & Support …
2014-08-28: Earlier this month … the final straw … as I caught up on a ‘piece’ in McGraw Hill’s Architectural Record … which reproduced an original, intriguing article from designMENA.com, posted on 12 August 2014, by Nick Ames …
Rebel Architects Star In New TV Show
Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera is to show a series of films focusing on radical architects from Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Spain, Palestine and Vietnam. The series – entitled ‘Rebel Architecture’ – focuses on architects using design to confront urban, environmental and social problems in their communities.
Dan Davies, producer of the series, said: “We couldn’t help noticing that despite all the problems afflicting humanity, many of which architecture uniquely has the ability to assist and even solve, most of the mainstream and architectural press celebrates the aesthetics of huge iconic projects, marvelling at insanely complicated ways to fold giant sheets of metal.”
“As we face issues from floods and natural disasters to an explosion of urban populations, soaring inequality and displacement through conflict, architecture seems wholly absent. So we wanted to look beyond the discussion of the aesthetics of Star-chitecture and see what architects outside the mainstream are doing.”
The six-part series, which starts on 18 August, begins with a film documenting the work of Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda, who uses his knowledge of planning law to occupy abandoned properties and to build structures on unused land.
It also features Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari, who designs disaster relief shelters and Eyal Weizman, professor of spatial and visual cultures at Goldsmiths University, who explores the way the built environment is used as an instrument of occupation.
In Vietnam, the series follows Vo Trong Nghia, whose projects focus on open spaces and sustainable design, while in Nigeria, Kunlé Adeyemi has designed floating buildings to solve issues of flooding and overcrowding.
The final episode explores Rocinha, the largest favela in Brazil, with builder Ricardo de Oliveira, and master planner Luis Toledo.
“The rebel architects have to push boundaries, but they must also look beyond their own buildings,” said Davies. “They start by looking at the wider context in which they live – be it Spain hit by the financial crisis, or Pakistan ravaged by floods – and work out how they can change the status quo with architecture.”
I SAY …
Shouldn’t every Architect be concerned about the issues raised in Nick’s article ? And if not … why not ??
Architecture is a wide and complex field of human creative, artistic and scientific endeavour. Yet in the international and national media, both mainstream and architectural … it does appear, as presented, to be narrowly confined to the “aesthetics of huge iconic projects”, and “insanely complicated ways to fold giant sheets of metal”. And the various media continue to focus on and enthusiastically applaud the current, outrageous phallic skyscraper contest in, for example, the Arab Gulf Region, China and South-East Asia … a contest which is actively promoted by such international organizations as the US-based Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat. [ I might add … with entirely insufficient attention being paid to fire safety, resilience and sustainability in those Super-Tall Buildings !! ]
If Santiago Cirugeda, Yasmeen Lari, Eyal Weizman, Vo Trong Nghia, Kunlé Adeyemi, Ricardo de Oliveira, and Luis Toledo are indeed Rebels … [ I would argue that they most definitely are not ] … and each one is working in isolation … then we must urgently instigate a Revolution …
Creative Architecture In Context !!
PRINCIPAL BARRIER …
The Institutional Framework of Today’s Conventional Architecture … typically developed to promote and protect a 19th Century Model of Architectural Practice … exerts a powerful stranglehold over the architectural profession and the schools of architecture in many countries. It is no longer ‘fit for purpose’ in the 21st Century !
Here in Ireland … a few days before reading the Nick Ames article … I attended a long Extraordinary General Meeting of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) … called by 10 Institute Members to demand urgent, concerted action from the Institute’s Council in response to the new and very flawed Building Control Amendment Regulations (Statutory Instruments Nos.9 & 105 of 2014), which came into effect from 1 March 2014.
Far from being an enlightening and pleasurable occasion … for many small reasons, it was annoying and frustrating. The biggest reason of all, however, was that I saw no evidence whatever that either Council or the Membership understands the simple, fundamental truth that … self-regulation/self-certification does NOT work !
Refer back to my previous post.
The General Public in Ireland … also known as ‘The Long-Suffering Consumer’ … does not trust the Medical and Legal Professions to self-regulate, despite the vociferous protestations from both that their internal regulatory systems are packed-packed-packed with civilians. Yes … ‘selected’ civilians !
That particular evening in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin … the RIAI’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) went nowhere … aided and abetted by Council Members at the head table. It was interesting to note that none of the 10 Institute Members who had called the meeting had a seat at that same table.
As we exit the Profound Economic Crisis following the Extravagant Celtic Tiger Years … and coldly look around us … we witness an architectural profession lost in a contextual wilderness – urban, environmental and social – while fumbling around in a legal and political maze. And, every day, we experience a sprawling, ugly, depressing and unsustainable built environment which is engaged in a sad and brutal conflict with nature.
It has taken at least a generation … but the RIAI has directly overseen the slow and progressive dilution of what it means to be an Architect in Ireland.
Time for The Revolution … To The Barricades !!
2014-04-21: Notwithstanding the, by now, well-established existence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’, a host of other national accessibility standards, and a plethora of accessibility design guidance materials … not every ‘real’ site, or building, or built environment, situation is covered. It would be physically impossible.
Unless it is fixed in your mind … or, more importantly, in the ‘group-thinking’ of an organization … that Accessibility-for-All should be, for example, both independent (i.e. it is not necessary for a person to have an assistant) and inclusive (i.e. friends can do things together and no special deal is made about accessibility for one person) … it can be very difficult to emerge from beneath the weight of those documents referred to above … and to apply important disability-related principles flexibly and adaptively in the real world.
At a recent meeting with some teachers in an Irish school (which shall remain nameless) … I advised that a very good and positive start can be made by discussing together and agreeing on a Disability Policy Statement, which will help to guide future actions. More steps are required, of course, but those will come later.
Model Disability Policy Statement for Educational Establishments
Insofar as it relates to the educational activities of
Name of School/College/University/Institute
and its relationships in the wider local community …
We recognise and respect the rights of people with activity limitations:
- to lead a fulfilling life – autonomously, independently, and with dignity ;
- to integrate into the civil, political, economic, social, cultural and educational mainstream ; and
- to participate in the general life of the wider local community on a basis of equal opportunity with everyone else.
Good Education is an Important Key to Social Inclusion
In order to ensure your autonomy and independence, your civil, political, economic, social, cultural and educational integration, and your active participation in the general life of the wider local community – the principle of equal opportunity shall not prevent the adoption or maintenance of services, systems and policies providing for your support or assistance within this establishment.
[ Discussed and Agreed by the School/College/University/Institute Management Board on …… ]
2014-04-13: Further to the Post, dated 2013-01-13 …
There are many essential qualities and features belonging to and representative of a Sustainable Human Environment (including the Social, Built, Virtual and Economic Environments). As discussed here many times before … Accessibility-for-All is one fundamental attribute, under Social and Legal Aspects of Sustainable Human and Social Development.
Another fundamental attribute … Urban Resilience … is now moving centre stage in the world of International Construction Research & Practice. WHEN, not if … this concept is fully elaborated and understood, it will have a profound impact on All Tasks, Activities and Types of Performance in the Human Environment … under All Aspects of Sustainable Human and Social Development.
After working for many years on Climate Change, particularly Adaptation … it was quite natural for me to encounter the concept of Resilience. But the aim of a newly established Core Task Group within CIB (International Council for Research & Innovation in Building & Construction) is to widen out this concept to also include Severe Natural Events (e.g. earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis), Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, (e.g. regional famines, mass human migrations), Extreme Man-Made Events (e.g. 2001 WTC 9-11 Attack, 2008 Mumbai ‘Hive’ Attacks), and Hybrid Disasters (e.g. 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Incident) … to set down Resilience Benchmarks … and to produce Resilience Performance Indicators. An imposing challenge !
AND … as Urbanization is proceeding at such a rapid pace in the BRICS Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa) and throughout the rest of the Southern Hemisphere … ‘practical’ and ‘easily assimilated’ trans-disciplinary output from this CIB Task Group is urgently required. In other words, the work of the Task Group must not be permitted to become an exercise in long drawn out pure academic research … the clear focus must be on ‘real’ implementation … As Soon As Is Practicable !!
A New and Updated Groundwork …
The ethical design response, in resilient built and/or wrought form, to the concept of Sustainable Human & Social Development.
SUSTAINABLE HUMAN & SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Development which meets the responsible needs, i.e. the human and social rights*, of this generation – without stealing the life and living resources from the next seven future generations.
*As defined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights … and augmented by UN OHCHR Letter, dated 6 June 2013, on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
The CITY (as Region)
A geographical region, with open and flexible boundaries, consisting of:
(a) An interwoven, densely constructed core (built environment) ;
(b) A large resident population of more than 500,000 people (social environment) ;
(c) A supporting hinterland of lands, waters and other natural resources (cultivated landscape) ;
together functioning as …
(i) a complex living system (analogous to, yet different from, other living systems such as ecosystems and organisms) ; and
(ii) a synergetic community capable of providing a high level of individual welfare, and social wellbeing for all of its inhabitants.
A general condition – in a community, society or culture – of health, happiness, creativity, responsible fulfilment, and sustainable development.
A person’s general feeling of health, happiness and fulfilment.
A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. [World Health Organization]
The complex network of real and virtual human interaction – at a communal or larger group level – which operates for reasons of tradition, culture, business, pleasure, information exchange, institutional organization, legal procedure, governance, human betterment, social progress and spiritual enlightenment, etc.
The social environment shapes, binds together, and directs the future development of the built and virtual environments.
Anywhere there is, or has been, a man-made or wrought (worked) intervention by humans in the natural environment, e.g. cities, towns, villages, rural settlements, service utilities, transport systems, roads, bridges, tunnels, and cultivated lands, lakes, rivers, coasts, seas, etc … including the virtual environment.
A designed environment, electronically generated from within the built environment, which may have the appearance, form, functionality and impact – to the person perceiving and actually experiencing it – of a real, imagined and/or utopian world.
The virtual and built environments continue to merge into a new augmented reality.
The intricate web of real and virtual human commercial activity – operating at micro and macro-economic levels – which facilitates, supports, but sometimes hampers or disrupts, human interaction in the social environment.
And So To Work !!
2014-02-07: Another year, and here we go again ! Except this time around … the bullshit, hot air and ‘blah-blah-blah’ must end !! Certainly here, and at every other opportunity as well … I will demand to hear far less talk, but to see a lot more effective action on this important issue of human and social rights !!!
Just before Christmas (2013), I received a personal invitation to attend the Zero Project Conference on Accessibility for All, which will take place in a few weeks time on 27 & 28 February … at the United Nations Offices in Vienna (one of my favourite cities), Austria. You can read all the details about the conference here: http://zeroproject.org/conference/ The following is my polite and restrained reply to that invitation, dated 14 January 2014 …
RE: 2014 Zero Project Conference on Accessibility for All
To Whom It May Concern,
Thank you very much for your invitation to attend the upcoming Zero Project Conference on ‘Accessibility’ … but, having carefully examined the Draft Conference Programme, I must decline … and will not be attending.
Concerning Accessibility for All … the biggest problem within the European Accessibility Community is that we are all talk and no action. The shameful reality is that the Human Environment (including the social – built – virtual – economic environments) remains emphatically inaccessible throughout Europe and far beyond !
Even though the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is in place, ratified by the European Union and many of the EU Member States … and International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment’ has been fully adopted … the first conference session is still asking the basic question “What is Accessibility ?”
Instead of a detailed examination of how the elaborate Accessibility Agenda contained in Articles 9, 11 and 19 of the UN CRPD can be properly and satisfactorily implemented, in an independently monitored (Art. 33), harmonized and culturally-sensitive manner across the globe … you will be presenting an ‘Access’ Beauty Pageant. Istanbul, a beautiful city with which I am very familiar, is only at the earliest stages of awareness about accessibility … and the recently published Hong Kong Fire Safety Code completely ignores fire safety for building occupants with disabilities ! Ireland is determined to delay ratification of the UN CRPD for as long as possible, and will refuse to ratify the Convention’s Optional Protocol … and I also know that implementation of the CRPD is meeting stiff resistance within the Institutions of the European Union.
Sustainable Development and the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) receive no attention in the Zero Project Conference Programme … even though it took a lot of effort to ensure that the innovative and forward-looking Preamble Paragraph (g) was incorporated in the Convention. Within the rapidly evolving SDG drafting process, it is still not properly understood why and how Accessibility for All is a fundamental attribute of a Sustainable and Resilient Human Environment.
Concerning Mainstreaming … I describe a typical ‘real’ situation on our Technical Blog ( www.cjwalsh.ie/2012/11/new-legal-normative-environment-for-accessibility-in-europe/ ) … but this constant annoying struggle, and discussion on finding common approaches to its successful resolution, are absent from the Programme.
For us, attendance at the 2014 Zero Project Conference would be a waste of scarce organization resources. For Europe, however, the Conference represents a much greater waste … a magnificent opportunity missed !
C. J. Walsh, B Arch FRIAI MIBCI MIFS MIFireE – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller.
- Member, CIB Task Group 87: ‘Urban Resilience – Benchmarking & Metrics’.
- Member, CIB Working Commission 14: ‘Fire Safety’.
- Chair, CIB W14 Research Working Group IV: ‘Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’.
- Member, CIB Working Commission 108: ‘Climate Change & the Built Environment’.
- Member, EU Expert Working Group on Urban Environment Research.
- Member, EU EYPD Expert Group on Accessibility.
Managing Director, Sustainable Design International Ltd. (Ireland & Italy) and Sürdürülebilir Tasarım Tic.Ltd.Şti. (Turkey).
This 2014 Zero Project Conference on Accessibility for All is divorced from Reality … and the Real Needs of many vulnerable people in all of our communities !
Without an Effectively Accessible Human Environment (including the social, built, virtual and economic environments) … access to many other human and social rights, e.g. education, housing, medicine, voting, etc., is prevented and unjustly barred.
Building Accessibility has been clearly specified in the new International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ as including … ‘access to buildings, circulation within buildings and their use, egress from buildings in the normal course of events, and evacuation in the event of an emergency’.
2013-07-01: Sustainable Design Solutions are …
- Person-Centred ;
- Reliability-Based ; and most importantly
- Adapted to Local Context and Heritage (fr: le Patrimoine – see ICOMOS 2011) … geography, climate (incl. change, variability and severity swings), social need, culture, and economy, etc., etc.
‘Person-Centredness’ is a core value of Sustainable Human & Social Development … an essential principle in Sustainable Design … an indispensable support framework for Sustainability-related Policy and Decision-making … and an invaluable indicator when monitoring Sustainability Implementation.
Why so because ?
It is the mid-1990’s … in the centre of Dublin City.
Imagine, if you will, a very large historical building having a civic, justice-related function … and also an enormous Energy Bill. As described in a much earlier post, dated 2009-02-20, and the series of posts which followed on the subject of Building Energy Rating (BER) … we found that the most effective and practical remedy for this gaping and continuously haemorrhaging ‘energy’ wound was to approach the problem though the building’s users, their perception of thermal comfort, and International Standard ISO 7730.
The ‘real’ reduction in energy consumption, the ‘real’ increase in the building’s energy efficiency, and the ‘real’ improvements in building user / employee comfort and morale … were astounding !
INTRODUCTION from that Paper …
These are interesting times; the benefits of modern technology have bypassed and long overtaken the stirring thoughts, visions and catch cries of Architects at the beginning of the 20th Century. However, at this time in Europe, we must now ask ourselves some difficult questions …
“What should be the Design Agenda for the ‘Built Environment’ in the new millennium ?”
“Do we actually understand the ‘real’ needs and desires of ‘real’ people in an inclusive society ?”
It is Sustainable Design – the art and science of the design, supervision of related construction/de-construction, and maintenance of sustainability in the Built Environment – which is currently generating a quantum leap in the forward evolution of a more coherent design philosophy.
Principle 1 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development states …
‘Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.’
Deeply embedded, therefore, within this philosophy is the concept of ‘person-centredness’, i.e. that core design value which places real people at the centre of creative concerns, and gives due consideration to their health, safety, and welfare in the Built Environment – it includes such specific performance criteria as: a sensory rich and accessible (mobility, usability, communications and information) environment; fire safety; thermal comfort; air, light and visual quality; protection from ionizing / electromagnetic radiation; nuisance noise abatement; etc. An important ‘person-centred’ design aid is the questionnaire survey, which is not only a very valuable source of information, but formalizes meaningful consultation between practitioners and end users.
SDI’s Guideline Framework on achieving equality of opportunity and social inclusion, which is based on a strategy produced by Directorate-General V of the European Commission, shows how further essential elements of ‘social wellbeing’ also relate to person-centredness; these include partnership between all sectors of society, consensus, transparency and openness.
This paper explores the rational and legal basis for person-centredness of the Built Environment in Europe. Fieldwork incorporating this innovative approach is also examined. Finally, a body of principles – a European Charter – is outlined which aims to ensure that new construction works, and renovated existing buildings, perform reliably, are adaptable, accessible and responsive, ‘intelligently green’ (French: intelli-verdure), cost-effective and inherently sustainable.
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION & MITIGATION POLICIES
AND BEFORE developing Climate Change Policies which will have such dramatic impacts on human populations, and their lifestyles, around the globe … perhaps those policies would be more effective, in the ‘real’ world and in the long-term … if we looked at the problem through the ‘eyes’ of people !
It will be worth taking a look at an interesting background paper produced by the World Bank in 2009 … whether you agree or disagree with the following statements …
“A lack of citizen understanding regarding the basics of climate science is an almost universal finding worldwide even though knowledge has increased over time. Especially notable is confusion between the causes of climate change and ozone depletion, and confusion between weather and climate.”
“North Americans know far less about climate change than their counterparts in the developed world.”
“Accurate and complete understanding of information is not a prerequisite for concern.”
“Concern is widespread around the world, but it may also be inversely correlated with the wealth and carbon footprint of a nation, or the socio-economic ‘class’ within a nation.”
“In some studies, more informed respondents reported less concern or sense of responsibility towards climate change.”
“People stop paying attention to global climate change when they realize that there is no easy solution for it. Many people judge as serious only those problems for which they think action can be taken.”
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (290 Kb)
This World Bank Working Paper – prepared as a background paper to the World Bank’s World Development Report 2010: Development in a Changing Climate. Policy Research Working Papers are posted on the Web at http://econ.worldbank.org
World Bank Working Paper 4940 (2009) – ABSTRACT …
Climate scientists have identified global warming as the most important environmental issue of our time, but it has taken over 20 years for the problem to penetrate the public discourse in even the most superficial manner. While some nations have done better than others, no nation has adequately reduced emissions and no nation has a base of public citizens that are sufficiently socially and politically engaged in response to climate change. This paper summarizes international and national differences in levels of knowledge and concern regarding climate change, and the existing explanations for the worldwide failure of public response to climate change, drawing from psychology, social psychology and sociology. On the whole, the widely presumed links between public access to information on climate change and levels of concern and action are not supported. The paper’s key findings emphasize the presence of negative emotions in conjunction with global warming (fear, guilt, and helplessness), and the process of emotion management and cultural norms in the construction of a social reality in which climate change is held at arms length. Barriers in responding to climate change are placed into three broad categories: 1) psychological and conceptual; 2) social and cultural; and 3) structural (political economy). The author provides policy considerations and summarizes the policy implications of both psychological and conceptual barriers, and social and cultural barriers. An annotated bibliography is included.
Is anybody learning yet ?
2013-06-08: Looking forward to some serious, collaborative and multi-disciplinary discussions on the day … and a barrel of laughs in the process (!!) …
The Informatics Research Unit for Sustainable Engineering (IRUSE) in the Department of Civil Engineering … and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research … both at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) … have jointly organized a 1-Day National Research Networking Workshop which will take place on Monday, 24 June 2013.
The NUIG ‘blurb’ for the day states … “Considering the importance of aggressive energy-efficiency measures in the Building Sector, together with the requirements for a safe, healthy, comfortable (and accessible) Built Environment … this NUIG Workshop will explore the topic of Integrated Modelling and Performance of the Built Environment.”
I was very pleased to receive an invitation to make a Presentation at this prestigious event …
‘Sustainable Fire Engineering Design’ – My Presentation Abstract
Fire Engineering … involves much more than mere compliance with building regulations and codes … whose fire safety objectives are limited, and whose performance requirements are sometimes inadequate and always minimal. More problematically … a fundamental conflict is mushrooming between Safe Sustainable Climate Resilient Building Design and Conventional Fire Consultancy Practice.
However … Sustainable Fire Engineering Design Solutions are:
- Reliability-based ;
- Person-centred ;
… and above all …
- Adapted to Local Context and Heritage (fr: le Patrimoine – see ICOMOS 2011) … geography, climate (incl. change, variability and severity swings), social need, culture, and economy, etc., etc.
This Presentation will discuss very rich collaborative research potential in the following areas …
- Creative Fire Engineering Concepts and Building Systems
- Fire-Induced Progressive Damage in Buildings
- Human Behaviour and Abilities in a Fire Situation
- Building Design for Firefighter Safety
- BMS – Fire Modelling – BIM
Research Output must be targeted at practical implementation in ‘real’ buildings … with actual user/construction performance carefully (i.e. reliably and precisely) monitored !
If anybody out there is interested in attending this NUIG Research Workshop … please contact Ms. Magdalena Hajdukiewicz (IRUSE) at: email@example.com
POST-EVENT UPDATE: 2013-06-27 …
While it was difficult to keep the Workshop Programme, involving a series of short 10-minute presentation slots, on track … discussions during the day were engaging, energetic and extensive.
I happily look forward to a successful and collaborative outcome from the day … Multi-Disciplinary Teams producing Trans-Disciplinary Research Output … which is geared towards practical implementation in ‘real’ buildings, with actual construction and building user performance carefully (i.e. reliably and precisely) monitored !
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (193 Kb)
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (1.78 MB)
However … and especially since the Workshop had been organized by IRUSE (the ‘SE’ standing for ‘Sustainable Engineering’) … it was indeed very strange to have to clarify the following points, among others:
1. The Minimum Life Cycle for a Sustainable Building is 100 Years … not 50 or 60 years !
2. Future Research Collaboration should be targeted at the multi-aspect ‘Sustainability Agenda’. The word ‘green’ (where only environmental aspects of sustainability are considered) should be actively discouraged, if not banned entirely !
3. With regard to Good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) … two high-level performance indicators which have been developed with the aim of protecting human health, and are both now referenced in International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ … are …
– Radon Activity (incl. Rn-222, Rn-220, RnD) in a building should, on average, fall within the range of 10 Bq/m3 to 40 Bq/m3, but should at no time exceed 60 Bq/m3 ;
– Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Concentrations in a building should not significantly exceed average external levels – typically within the range of 300 parts per million (ppm) to 500 ppm – and should at no time exceed 800 ppm.
Concerning the substantive difference in meaning and scope between ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ … there is, perhaps, no better way to illustrate this difference than to observe the atrocious ‘Accessibility-for-All’ Performance (Accessibility for People with Activity Limitations !) of the critically acclaimed (?!?) and award winning (?!?) New Engineering Building in Galway University … which flaunts its ‘über-green’ credentials …
Can you believe what’s in those photographs ?? More importantly … can you believe what’s not in those photographs ???? In such a recently completed building … “incredible” is the only answer to both questions.
Under International Law … lack of accessibility, or inadequate accessibility, to the social, built, virtual and economic environments … IS a denial and infringement of the basic human rights of people with activity limitations. It also limits, needlessly and unnecessarily, the numbers of potential users of those environments … which makes no sense at all.
My strong recommendation to Galway University … is to immediately commission a Competent Accessibility Consultant to give the university campus a thorough going over ! You are failing the campus user population … the local community in Galway … and Irish society generally.
My even stronger recommendation to the Architects for the New Engineering Building … RMJM Architects (Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall) in Scotland, and Taylor Architects in Ireland … is to always commission a Competent Accessibility Consultant on all of your projects … small, medium and large … because you haven’t a bull’s notion about this important dimension of building performance !!
And remember folks … Accessibility has been clearly specified in the new International Standard ISO 21542 as including … ‘access to buildings, circulation within buildings and their use, egress from buildings in the normal course of events, and evacuation in the event of an emergency’.
2013-05-23: The U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, announced the launch of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on 9 August 2012.
UN SDSN is structured around 12 Thematic Groups of scientific and technical experts – from academia, civil society, and the private sector – who work in support of Sustainable Development Problem Solving at local, national, and global scales … and to identify and highlight best practices. They also provide technical support to the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
The world has changed profoundly since the year 2000, when the UN Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) were adopted by the United Nations. Four critical shifts make the coming fifteen-year period, 2015-2030, different from the MDG period, 2000-2015: (i) a drastically higher human impact on the physical Earth; (ii) rapid technological change; (iii) increasing inequality; and (iv) a growing diffusion and complexity of governance.
These problems will expand, dangerously beyond our control, without an urgent and radical transformation in how we organize society. The world now needs an operational Sustainable Development Framework which can mobilize all key actors (national & local governments, civil society, business, science and academia) in every country to move away from the Business-as-Usual (BaU) Trajectory towards a Sustainable Development (SD) Path. This Framework and the SDG’s identify the main objectives and strategies needed to transform from BaU to SD.
The purpose of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) is to help translate global aspirations into practical actions. In this regard, SDSN has subscribed to the ‘Rio+20′ Agreement that the SDG’s should be ‘action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development, and respecting national policies and priorities’.
SDI’s Comments on the Draft ‘Action Agenda for Sustainable Development & Sustainable Development Goals’ …
[ Submitted by e-mail, yesterday (2013-05-22), to the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network.]
1. The problems with this Draft Document, dated 7 May 2013, are fundamental and profound. Our Organization will be happy to assist the Network (SDSN) in improving the text.
2. At this time, however, we would like to bring to your attention some urgent overarching issues:
- Amend the Title … refer directly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). See above.
- As drafted, the text does not show that … or explain how … there is a robust Interdependence between the different Sustainable Development Goals.
- Indeed, the scale and immediacy of the Sustainable Development Challenges are unprecedented. The Network (SDSN) must now, therefore, take the brave and difficult step of placing the Sustainable Development Goals in order of priority. Do not allow yourselves to be shackled by the approach taken in the earlier Millennium Development Goals !
- In this Document, All of the texts dealing with ‘Governance’ are ambiguous, weak and embarrassingly inadequate. References to the Institutional, Political, Legal and Judicial Aspects of ‘Governance’ are both necessary, and required.
- The word ‘access’ is used very often and very generally in the Document. BUT … in order for People with Activity Limitations (2001 WHO ICF) to ‘access’ facilities and services in the Built (including Virtual), Social and Economic Environments, and to be included and participate fully in their local communities … it is an ESSENTIAL prerequisite that those Environments are effectively ACCESSIBLE-FOR-ALL ! This concept is not mentioned once in the Document … a very serious omission.
Updates: 2013-06-07 & 2013-07-22 …
The SDSN Final Report is Fundamentally and Profoundly INADEQUATE !
Immediately below that … see Extracts from the Letter of Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, dated 6 June 2013 … addressed to All Permanent Missions in New York and Geneva.
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (1.91 MB)
” Twenty years ago this June, the World Conference on Human Rights convened at Vienna to forge a new vision for our world, one founded on a recognition of the fundamental interdependence between democracy, development and human rights. In the tail of a blood-stained and deprived century, the whispered call was for dignity, equality, justice, rights. And what began as a murmur in Vienna grew in volume and force with each global conference: Copenhagen and Beijing in 1995, Durban in 2001, New York in 2005 and again in 2010, and Rio in 2012. In recent years, the murmur has become a roar, echoing across societies on all continents, from victims denied redress, older persons denied respect, youth denied hope, and activists demanding a better way. From this call, we have learned much about the imperatives of sustainable development. There will be no development without equality, no progress without freedom, no peace without justice, no sustainability without human rights.”
“All that is required is the political will to move beyond the failed approaches of the past, to chart a fresh course, and to embrace a new paradigm of development built on the foundation of human rights, equality and sustainability.”
1. The Post-2015 Agenda must be built on a human rights-based approach, in both process and substance.
2. The new agenda must address both sides of the development challenge – that is freedom from both fear and want.
3. The imperative of equality must underpin the entire framework.
4. Marginalized, disempowered and excluded groups, previously locked out of development, must have a place in the new agenda.
5. We must commit to ending poverty.
6. The new framework must advance a healthy environment, as an underlying determinant of internationally guaranteed human rights.
7. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to an international order in which human rights can be fully realized. Similarly, the UN Declaration on the Right to Development mandates international reform to ensure human rights-based policy coherence at the international level. In the wake of the global financial, food, climate and energy crises, and in the context of growing disparities and historic governance failures at all levels, the credibility and effectiveness of the Post-2015 Agenda will therefore depend also on the degree to which it addresses this pressing need for human rights-based reforms at international level.
8. The Post-2015 Agenda should be universally applicable.
9. The Post-2015 Agenda must include a strong accountability framework.
10. In the wake of the devastating global financial crisis, and revelations of abusive business practices in all regions, it is clear that responsibility for human rights-based development in the Post-2015 period must extend to actors in the private sector, as well.
6 June 2013 – United Nations OHCHR, Geneva
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- Japan in April and May 2010 … Accessibility-for-All ! on
- Recent Terenure Terraced Housing Fires – Party Wall Failures !! on
- Recent Terenure Terraced Housing Fires – Party Wall Failures !! on
- Spectacular Dawn over Amandola (FM), in Italy – 28 April 2013 ! on
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